EVE Online is on the verge of some amazing things. At EVE Online FanFest 2023, CCP Games announced a new expansion in EVE Online: Havoc, a new first-person shooter in EVE Vanguard, a new 4X on the way with EVE Online: Galaxy Conquest, and much more. It’s the third decade of the game and CCP is doing it up big with Havoc kicking things off this month and Vanguard getting playtesting soon enough. How are things going? We caught up EVE Online Community Developer Peter Farrell (CCP Swift) and Creative Director Bergur Finnbogason to talk about it.
Swashbucklers among the stars
For those who missed it, EVE Online: Havoc is the latest expansion to the main game coming on November 14, 2023. It introduces joinable pirate factions and a new system for carrying out anarchy across the EVE universe, as well as rewards for stopping said anarchy should your heart pine for justice and order. It also brings a wealth of new ships to explore, including the long-awaited Angel Cartel Titan. With so many good things coming to the game that both push it forward and meet player demands, the team at CCP is giddy for its community to see what Havoc can do.
“Things are moving fast right now,” Finnbogason told me. “We're getting close to finalizing the expansion content lock coming up. So yeah, people are super pumped. The expansion is looking kick a**, loads of pirate activity on the horizon, and teams gearing up for the first strike event at the end of the year. It's a pretty exciting time at CCP.”
One thing that makes Havoc so special is that piracy has almost always been around in EVE Online already. Players have formed plenty of factions and causes bent on destroying, pilfering, and otherwise stealing ill-gotten gains throughout the universe. This is CCP working to cater to players not only with a story that leans heavy into piracy, but also systems and mechanics that make piracy all the more fruitful as you travel among the stars.
“There’s been piracy in EVE from even before day one, even when the game was just happening on the good old forums,” Berger continued. “The first pirate factions were definitely forming and people were roleplaying as the first snippets of lore were released. So, piracy has always been a big part of EVE Online. A lot of the darker stories have a pirate element to them, such as heists, theft, and breaking up of alliances. And this is something that we've been wanting to do forever to really allow players to fulfill that fantasy. So yeah, we're very excited to finally allow players to show their allegiance and really wreak havoc!”
Peter Farrell also expanded on the details of wreaking havoc in Havoc, and how piracy will affect systems where anarchy prevails.
“When you're a pirate right now in EVE Online, you could just get to kill people, take their stuff, and high five one another,” Farrell explained. “Now you'll be able to deteriorate a system if you put a lot of effort into it through what we call the Corruption mechanic. And, of course, there's the anti-piracy element of it too. There's a Suppression element where people can make it more secure, but players will finally be able to have direct control over the safety and state of a system for the first time ever. And it's just so cool to be able to say, ‘oh yeah, I'm a pirate. I get to make this system less secure for everyone. I get to give my buddies a bonus to speed and PVP in their modules because they're like pirates.’ And it feels like we're really running rampant in this system and turning everything into chaos.”
Of course, with these new mechanics and this new story comes new ships for players to explore. By aligning with pirate groups, you can gain access to new ships that are coming to EVE, and they seem formidable to say the least. New battlecruisers, destroyers, and a very-much awaited Titan await players that put their energy into the pirate factions. Whether you play with the drone-launching smokescreens and death-by-a-thousand-cuts style of the Guristas or the speed, maneuverability, and space control of the Angel Cartel ships. You’ll be wielding some strong tech. In fact, Farrell claims the Angel Cartel ships might have some of the highest skill caps in the game for what they can do.
That said, the new Titan is what really caught eyes. Mistakenly revealed in the past, the Angel Cartel Titan has been looming in the background of EVE Online conversations for a long time. It was an incredible moment for CCP to be able to show it and they’re thrilled to see what it will do in player hands.
“It is super unique as well because it's one of those Angel ships that I was mentioning before that's predicated on speed and maneuverability,” Farrell explained. “Usually, Titans are used in the big set piece battles. They've got a massive doomsday weapon that does a ton of damage to a single ship. However, because this thing is so agile and moves so fast, it unlocks the possibility for a small group to use it to just deal absolutely insane amounts of damage in a very short period of time with its guns. So, it's got the highest alpha strike of any ship in the game, and if you kit it out in a certain way, it'll be incredibly agile for a hit and run operation.”
It would appear that if you’re on the other end of a surprise Angel Titan attack, you might be dust before you ever knew what hit you.
Boots on the ground
Havoc wasn’t the only thing the CCP devs had to talk about. We also caught up on Vanguard. This upcoming first-person shooter addition to EVE Online is set to have a playtest that will be available to EVE Online Omega players in the near future, and CCP is working hard to ensure that first test is a satisfying experience for players.
“We're not ready to announce exact dates or anything like that,” Finnbogason explained. “But in the very near future and from day one players will be able to contribute to the corruption in the EVE Online systems. We plan for it to be meaningful from day one. What you saw at Fanfest is what we're testing and a bit more. It looks great, it plays extremely well, and yeah, we're focused on getting it out and getting it into player's hands for the first time.”
One of the most exciting things about Vanguard is that Finnbogason feels technology and hardware has come along to make things possible that couldn’t be done in previous efforts to have a spinoff of this magnitude.
“We've tried this a couple of times in the past, with Dust and other projects like EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack,” Finnbogason continued. “Those were more stories within New Eden. Sadly, those games mostly disappeared because of technical reasons, not our ambitions to build and create them. But we've taken learnings from all these things and this is stuff that we're bringing into the development cycle. This time, we are running the Vanguard team and the EVE Online team as a single team, and it's the same leadership that operates both. It’s years of experience that has brought us to this point. I'm not going to say years of failing, but years of learning.”
So what does that mean? Well, for the upcoming Omega Playtest, one of the biggest things is getting Vanguard in front of players, showing players it’s real, and seeing how the core theories of gameplay and connectivity hold up with EVE Online. Vanguard isn’t supposed to be separate from the main EVE Online game. The two are supposed to effect each other, and that means making sure events matter between the two. After the initial testing is done, it sounds like CCP wants to make sure the various roles of EVE Online fit into Vanguard one way or another.
“It's incredibly important for the team to deliver… to actually put something in front of our amazing community,” Finnbogason told me. “I mean, that is a monumental moment and it kind of stops being a thing that you're just working on in your corner and hiding away from the universe. We also want to start to testing what has been hypothesis up to this point and what we've been play testing internally on some of the core gameplay. After that, there are loads of questions around what is an Explorer in FPS? What is an Industrialist? So those elements are things that we want to start to test going forward, and this is something that we want to do quite frequently. We want the feedback. We want to know if this is good. And we want players to let us know how to make it good and exciting.”
Players will be able to learn more about when the EVE Vanguard playtest is coming and further news on the game's website.
If you’ve been playing EVE Online already, the next few months of the game look exciting as all get-out. If you haven’t, Havoc looks like it’s going to be a wild place to jump in and Vanguard looks like a whole new accessible addition to the fun. Havoc is set to launch in EVE Online on November 14, 2023, and the first EVE Vanguard playtest will come soon after. Stay tuned as we continue to watch for what comes next from CCP Games and EVE Online.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, CCP Games devs on upcoming EVE Online Havoc expansion & Vanguard
The first Vanguard play test was today. I participated. And......... No comment.